Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 8, Issue 1–2, pp 173–178 | Cite as

Indigenous ecological knowledge systems and development

  • Ellen Woodley


This paper reviews a selection of the literature that focuses on indigenous ecological knowledge systems and the accompanying cosmology and myth. Traditional ecological knowledge may not be obvious to the western trained scientist or the development worker since it may be disguised in the form of cosmology and ritual. The paper argues that the development process must be based on an understanding of traditional ecological knowledge if projects are to be sustainable both environmentally and sociologically.


Development Process Veterinary Medicine Knowledge System Agricultural Economic Development Worker 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baerg, B. 1985.Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Sub-Sahar an Africa and Their Relevance to Development Programmes and Projects. M.Sc. Thesis (unpublished), University of Guelph, Canada. 175 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Bohannan, P. 1964.Africa and Africans. Natural History Press, New York. 259 pp.Google Scholar
  3. Brokensha, D. and B.W.Riley. 1980. “Mbeere Knowledge of their Vegetation and its Relevance for Development: A Case Study from Kenya.” In Brokensha, Warren and Werner.Google Scholar
  4. Brokensha, D., D.M. Warren and O. Wertner (eds.). 1980.Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Development. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  5. Brush, S.B. 1980. “Potato Taxonomies in Andean Agriculture.” In Brokensha, Warren, and Werner. 1980. p.37–47.Google Scholar
  6. Colletta, N. 1980. “Tradition for Change: Indigenous Socio-Cultural Forms as a Basis for Non-Formal Education and Development.” InTradition for Development. Indigenous Structures and Folk Media in Non-Formal Education. R. Kidd and N. Colletta (eds.) German Foundation for International Development and International Council for Adult Education. p.9–59.Google Scholar
  7. Duewel, J. 1980. “Cultivating Indigenous Irrigation Institutions in Rural Java: A Study of the Darma Tirta Water Users Association Model in Central Java, Indonesia.” In Colletta, 1980. p. 111–149.Google Scholar
  8. Douglas, M. 1963. “The Lele of Kasai.” InStudies in the Cosmological Ideas and Social Values of African Peoples. D. Forde (ed.) International African Institute. Oxford University Press, London. 243 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Dover, M.J. and L.M. Talbot. 1988. “Feeding the Earth: An Agroecological Solution.”Technology Review 91(2):27–35.Google Scholar
  10. Forde, D. 1963. “Introduction.” In Douglas., 1963.Google Scholar
  11. Grey, C. 1963.Agriculture and Veterinary Research in Kenya. USAID/Nairobi.Google Scholar
  12. Hall, E. 1977.Beyond Culture. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press.Google Scholar
  13. Horton, R. and R. Finnegan. 1973. “Introduction.”Modes of Thought. R. Horton and R. Finnegan (eds.) Faber and Faber, London 399 pp.Google Scholar
  14. Howes, M. and R. Chambers. 1980. “Indigenous Technical Knowledge: Analysis, Implications and Issues.” In Brokensha, Warren, and Werner, 1980. p. 329–340.Google Scholar
  15. Igbozurike, M.U. 1971. “Ecological Balance in Tropical Agriculture.”Geographical Review 61:518–529.Google Scholar
  16. Johnny, M. and P. Richards. 1980. “Indigenous Knowledge, Folk Media, and Critiquing Rural Development in Sierra Leone.” In Colletta, 1980. p.332–369.Google Scholar
  17. Johnson, A. 1978. “Agricultural Production Potentials and Small Farmer Strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa.”Two Studies of Development in Sub-Sahar an Africa. World Bank Staff Working Paper No. 300. World Bank. Washington, D.C. p. 66–127.Google Scholar
  18. Johnson, A. 1980. “Ethnoecology and Planting Practices in a Swidden Agricultural System.” In Brokensha, Warren, and Werner, 1980.Google Scholar
  19. Kayam, U. 1980. “Notes on the Peasantren in Rural Java: an Islamic Institution Promoting Non-Formal Education.” In Colletta, 1980. p. 193–206.Google Scholar
  20. Knight, C.G. 1980. “Ethnoscience and the African Farmer: Rationale and Strategy.” In Brokensha, Warren, and Werner. 1980. p. 205–231.Google Scholar
  21. Moran, E.F. 1979.Human Adaptability: An Introduction to Ecological Anthropology. Duxbury Press Mass.Google Scholar
  22. Netting, R. McC. 1974. “Agrarian Ecology.”Annual Review of Anthropology 3:21–56.Google Scholar
  23. Posey, D.A. 1983. “Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and Development of the Amazon.” InThe Dilemma of Amazonian Development. E.F. Moran (ed.) Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado. p. 225–257.Google Scholar
  24. Posey, D.A., J. Frechione, J. Eddins and L. Francelmo da Silva. 1984. “Ethnoecology as Applied Anthropology in Amazonian Development.”Human Organization 43(2):95–107.Google Scholar
  25. Reichel-Dolmatoff, G. 1976. “Cosmology as Ecological Analysis: A View from the Rainforest.”Man 11:307–318.Google Scholar
  26. Richards, P. 1975. “‘Alternative’ Strategies for the African Environment. Folk Ecology as a Basis for Community Orientated Agricultural Development.” InAfrican Environment. Problems and Perspectives. African Environment Special Report 1. P. Richards (ed.) International African Institute. London.Google Scholar
  27. Richards, P. 1980. “Community Environmental Knowledge in Rural African Environments.” In Brokensha, Warren, and Werner, 1980. p. 183–203.Google Scholar
  28. Rocheleau, D., K. Wachira, L. Malaret and B.M. Wanjohi. 1989. “Local Knowledge for Agroforestry and Native Plants.”Farmer First, R. Chambers, A. Pacey, and L.A. Thrupp (eds). Intermediate Technology Publications, London.Google Scholar
  29. Rogers, E. M., N.J. Colletta, and J. Mbindyo. 1980. “Social and Cultural Influences on Human Development Policies and Programs.” InImplementing Programs of Human Development. World Bank Staff Working Paper No. 403. P. Knight (ed.) World Bank Washington D.C. p.235–309.Google Scholar
  30. Sagasti, F.R. 1979. “Towards Endogenous Science and Technology for Another Development. Development.”Dialogue 1979 p.13–23.Google Scholar
  31. Scott, M.F. and B. Gormley. 1980. “The Animal of Friendship (Habbanaae): An Indigenous Model of Sahelian Pastoral Development in Niger.” In Brokensha, Warren, and Werner, 1980. p. 93–111.Google Scholar
  32. Stoney, C. and M. Bratamihardja 1990. “Identifying Appropriate Agroforestry Technologies in Java.”Keepers of the Forest. M. Poffenberger (ed). Kumarian Press, Connecticut.Google Scholar
  33. Swanson, R.A. 1980. “Development Intervention and Self Realization Among the Gourma.” InIndigenous Knowledge Systems and Development, p. 67–91. D.W. Brokensha, D.W. Warren, and O. Werner (eds.). University Press of America, Lanham, Md.Google Scholar
  34. Tempels, P., Rev. 1959.Bantu Philosophy. Presence Africaine, Paris.Google Scholar
  35. Timberlake, L. 1985.Africa in Crisis. J. Tinker (ed) IIED/Earthscan.Google Scholar
  36. Vayda, A.P. 1969. “Introduction.” InEnvironment and Cultural Behavior. Ecological Studies in Cultural Anthropology. A.P. Vayda (ed.) Garden City, NY: Natural History Press.Google Scholar
  37. Warren, D.M. and P.M. Meehan. 1980. “Applied Ethnoscience and Dialogical Communication in Rural Development.” InIndigenous Knowledge Systems and Development, p. 321–327.Op. cit. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Woodley

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations